I’ve always been on the shy, quiet side. You know, the little girl who hid behind her mother when faced with meeting someone new. I was totally that kid! As I got older, I learned to “act as if,” but deep down, I was still that shy little girl.
Growing up a baby boomer in Sunnyvale, Calif., I knew a career in tech was my golden ticket to a good-paying job. Even though I was offered a full-ride music scholarship, my parents convinced me that I would never be able to make a living in music. So, off to college I went to get a degree in computer science.
I ended up working for several high-tech companies that paid well and went to grad school at night to get an MBA. But the creative side of me knew there had to be more to life than fighting traffic for two hours a day to sit in a cubicle and work overtime for someone else.
So, when given the opportunity to take a severance package due to a company reorganization, I jumped. I’ll never forget walking out of that building for the last time screaming, “I’m free!” (Once I was in my car, that is.) But then came that overwhelming fear of “Now what?”
I thought long and hard about what I really wanted to do. I loved writing and always thought I had a good eye for photography, but I knew absolutely nothing about taking a good picture beyond pressing the shutter button. I searched the internet for ideas and came across Great Escape Publishing’s photography workshops. One in particular caught my eye: Paris.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how wonderful it would be to learn more about photography in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Despite my shy nature, I decided to go for it. That decision changed the trajectory of my life.
That first day in Paris, we had classroom instruction, followed by real-world practice. My photography improved dramatically, and I couldn’t have been more excited!
The more workshops I took with Great Escape, the more proficient I became with my camera. I practiced on anything and anyone to build my portfolio (here are some tips that worked for me). Over time, something shifted. I started getting compliments from people about how comfortable I made them feel in front of my camera. My shyness became the thing that set me apart as relatable, easy to work with, and someone people wanted to refer their friends to. My business exploded.
I’m now a full-time professional portrait and event photographer. I’ve consistently made a six-figure income annually for the last three years. And the best part is, I didn’t have to change who I was to do it.
At 55, I may be a late bloomer, but if you have a dream in your heart, it’s never too late to make a change for the better. Follow your passion. Develop the skills you need to do what you love.
And know you can be successful by just being you.